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However, the share trading platform with the lowest costs will depend on how often you trade, how much money you invest and which markets you're trading in.
For example, place a trade of $3,000 with ANZ Share Investing and the brokerage is $19.95, the same fee charged by CommSec.
But if you were to place a trade of just $500 with the same 2 providers, CommSec's fee drops to $10 while ANZ stays the same at $19.95.
We look at online brokers that offer some of the lowest brokerage fees in Australia, including zero brokerage platforms, plus list the other costs you need to look out for.
Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage is the cost to purchase $1,000 or less of equities without any qualifications or special eligibility. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.
A brokerage fee (also called commission) is what your stockbroker charges for executing a buy or sell transaction.
In other words, every time you buy or sell shares through your online share trading account, you’ll need to pay a specific amount to the broker for the privilege of using its services.
This fee is based on the size or value of the trade. It could be a flat fee or an amount calculated as a percentage of the transaction value. The fee is charged both when you buy and sell a share.
Brokerage fees are one of the largest expenses associated with online share trading and can have a big impact on the affordability of your investments.
If you’re a frequent trader and you’re paying a brokerage fee of $30 every time you buy or sell a parcel of shares, this can quickly add up to a substantial amount and eat away at your trading profits.
That’s why it’s essential for anyone thinking of getting started in the share market to compare brokerage fees charged by online share trading platforms and shop around for the cheapest option.
Brokerage fees are far from identical from one provider to the next, so comparing fees is important. Brokerage can range from $0–$30 per trade for online share trading platforms.
Full-service brokers such as Morgans or Morgan Stanley start fees at around $80 per trade, usually charged as a percentage of the amount being traded.
Some providers have simple fee structures and others have quite complex arrangements. Brokers calculate fees using the size or value of the trade, how often you trade and in which country the stocks are listed.
Different brokerage fees often also apply to phone trades and other unique trading options, so it’s worth reading the fine print to find out how much extra it'll cost every time you make a trade.
A growing number of share trading platforms charge no brokerage fees to trade US or global stocks. These apps include:
Although you don't need to pay a commission, this doesn't mean they're free. Instead, they charge a small foreign exchange fee to convert Australian dollars to the required global currency. So far, no apps offer zero brokerage for Australian (ASX) stocks. However, Superhero offers the deal for ASX-listed ETFs.
The table below features a guide to the brokerage fees charged by some of Australia’s most well-known online share trading providers when buying and selling shares on the ASX. Compare those fees to find out which provider offers the cheapest stock brokerage.
|Broker||Online brokerage fee for ASX stocks and ETFs||Phone fee|
|Westpac Online Investing|
|IG Share Trading|
|ANZ Share Investing||First trade each month:|
Second and subsequent trades each month:
|Macquarie Online Trading|
|HSBC Online Share Trading|
|Saxo Capital Markets|
The brokerage fees for shares listed overseas can be more or less than what you'd pay for ASX-listed stocks depending on the country of choice and the platform you're using. You can expect to pay anywhere between $AUD0–$60 per trade for US-listed shares. This can be higher again for countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
On top of the brokerage fee, you'll typically need to pay a currency exchange fee (sometimes called FX fee) to convert your Australian dollars into international currencies. This is usually calculated into the exchange rate and referred to as the "spread". It's the difference between the base exchange rate and the rate you're offered. The higher the spread, the higher your fee.
For example, CMC Markets has a spread of 0.70%, so the exchange rate you'll receive for international transactions is calculated as the best available offer at the time of execution plus a spread of 0.70%, which CMC collects. Below are the fees for US and UK shares offered by some of the most well-known global stock providers:
|Provider||US-listed shares||UK-listed shares||Conversion fee|
|IG Share Trading||US$0*||£0||0.70%|
|Saxo Capital Markets Share Trading||US$4 or *||£8 or 0.10%*||1%|
|CommSec International Trading Account||US39.95 or 0.40%||0.60%|
|Stake||US$0||Not available||70 pips (US$0.70 for every AU$100 exchanged)*|
|Superhero||Not available||50 pips ($0.50 per AUD$100 transferred)|
*Stake charges an FX fee when conducting initial currency exchange, not on every stock trade.
From time to time, some online share trading providers will offer special deals to help you save on brokerage fees or possibly avoid them altogether. For example, Bell Direct regularly offers free ETF trades for each month a year for new customers.
Other providers also offer brokerage fee rebates for frequent traders. For example, if an account holder makes more than a specified number of trades per month, the provider may refund all the brokerage fees payable for those trades to their trading account at the end of the month.
Such offers can help you improve your bottom line when trading shares online, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for any brokerage deals and discounts.
While brokerage fees are the major cost you need to consider when comparing share trading platforms, you should also be aware that other fees may apply. For example, you may need to pay a monthly fee to become a premium member of a share trading platform. This could allow you to access live market data, the latest market news and analysis or stock research and recommendations.
Other common fees include:
Read the terms and conditions of an online stockbroking platform to determine what those ongoing fees are and how they will affect you.
As well as brokerage fees, there are several other features you should compare when choosing an online share trading platform, including:
It’s also important to compare any ongoing fees you will need to pay to maintain your account, such as a monthly management fee or a fee to allow you to access dynamic market data. In addition, remember to check whether special options such as stop-loss orders or phone trades attract extra fees.
Compare the number of global markets each platform allows you to buy and sell shares. In addition to the ASX, many providers also allow you to trade on stock exchanges in New York, London, Tokyo and many other countries worldwide.
In the fast-paced world of share trading, accessing up-to-date market data could be critical to the success of your trades. Check whether you can access static, live, dynamic or real-time data, and whether this attracts any extra fees.
Compare the options each provider offers for placing buy and sell orders. Can you place limit and market orders? Are stop-loss orders available to help you minimise investment losses?
Try out any share trading platform you are considering using to work out how easy it is to use daily. Most providers offer free demo accounts to help you sample their services.
As well as an online platform, can you place trades over the phone or on the go using a smartphone or tablet app? Consider whether the trading system is a web-based platform or whether it requires you to download any software.
Make sure you can easily contact the share trading platform provider if you ever have a question about your account or a problem with a trade. Look for phone, email and live chat support, as well as online learning centres and education tools.
By considering all of the above factors, you should be able to find the best and cheapest stockbroker for your online share trading needs.
Check out our comprehensive guide to share trading here.
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